OSHA: Inspections May Have Prevented Fatal New York Subway Worksite Accident

Had Yonkers Contracting Co. Inc. conducted the proper safety inspections of large boom crane a New York construction worker would be alive today, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

A view of the 7 Line subway extension worksite in 2010 showing a large boom crane. OSHA says regular inspection of a crane would have prevented a fatal accident..(Photo: Jim Henderson)

OSHA cited Yonkers Contracting for 10 alleged serious violations of workplace safety in connection with the 3 April 2012 death of a worker on the No. 7 subway extension project in Manhattan.

The worker, Michael Simermeyer, 31, was an employee of subcontractor J&E Industries of Belle Harbor, New York.

Simermeyer was struck and killed by a crane boom at the 524 W. 33rd St. work site. The accident happened when the wire rope used to raise and lower the boom broke, causing it to fall.

“Fundamental, vital and required safety practices were not followed in this case, resulting in the most extreme consequence: the loss of a worker’s life,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director in Manhattan. “Had the proper procedures been followed, this incident and this worker’s death could have been prevented.”

OSHA Alleges Inspections Not Done

OSHA’s investigation found Yonkers Contracting did not conduct required inspections of the wire ropes used to hoist materials, which includes the boom that collapsed and killed the worker.

The crane had been scheduled for an inspection by The New York City Department of Buildings in January 2012, according to The New York Daily News.

However, when the inspectors arrived the crane was in operation, The Daily News reports.

The inspection was rescheduled. The rescheduled inspection was to take place 5 April 2012, two days after the crane collapse.

Inspections are required before each work shift and on a monthly and annual basis to identify and correct any defects in the ropes, according to OSHA.

The 10 serious safety violations include:
• Allowing a worker inside the crane’s fall zone
• Not ensuring that a rigger, a worker who rigs cranes to lift loads, is properly trained
• Fall hazards stemming from an unguarded/open-sided work area
• Impalement hazards from unguarded rebar
• Failing to conduct required annual functional testing of the hoist.

J&E Industries was issued one serious citation involving a lack of training for a rigger.

A serious violation is when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

“One method of enhancing workers’ safety and to prevent on-the-job deaths is developing and maintaining an effective illness and injury prevention program in which management and employees work together to proactively identify and prevent hazardous conditions,” said Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York.

The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Cits330046.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Cits330085.pdf*.

Yonkers Contacting faces $68,000 in proposed fines. J&E Industries faces a $7,000 proposed fine.

Each company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Newsday reports that Yonkers Contacting will contest OSHA’s federal safety citations and fines.

“We disagree with these preliminary findings and are prepared to defend ourselves with extensive evidence and documentation,” Yonkers Contracting Co. said in a statement emailed to Newsday on Monday, 8 October 2012.

Michael Simermeyer’s parents are outraged that OSHA issued a fine of just $68,000 in connection with the accident that killed their son, according to The  Daily News.

“I really feel like my son was murdered,” the worker’s mother Colleen Simermeyer told the Daily News.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Manhattan office at 212-620-3200.

Visit http://www.osha.gov for more information.

List your business in the premium web directory for free This website is listed under Human Resources Directory